The Fortezza of Montalcino
The Le Ragnaie estate is located in the hills outside the village of Montalcino. Situated within the rolling hills and forests, the farmhouse is perfectly picturesque. The vineyards located on the property are some of the highest in the entire Montalcino zone, reaching over 600 meters at the highest point. That elevation helps to create the high-toned acidity that is one of the hallmark’s for the estate’s wines. Even in late March, the temperature variation from day-to-night at Le Ragnaie was clear. These vineyards are largely composed of sandstone and small rocks.
Along with the vines located on the estate, Le Ragnaie also has fruit in the old vineyard of Petroso, near the Montalcino village, and the prestigious Castelnuovo dell’Abate. While Petroso has soils similar to Le Ragnaie’s estate vines, Castelnuovo dell’Abate is clay-based soil with larger river rocks. Castelnuovo dell’Abate sits in front of the Amiata Mountain and it helps shield the vines from harsh weather, while the area also receiving the cooling influence of the Orcia River. The clay soils and shielded location help to give wines from this part of the Montalcino zone their more rich, velvety texture. The Le Ragnaie vines in Castelnuovo dell’Abate are also next to those of the famed Poggio di Sotto. These three varied microclimates that make up the winery’s holdings are typically exemplified in three different Brunello cuvees.
Overlooking Castelnuovo dell’Abate
Le Ragnaie is farming organically and covercrops each year. The grapes are hand-harvested and destemmed. The wine first ferments in concrete using natural yeasts, followed by aging in large 25-hectoliter Slavonian casks.
2014 was a challenging year for winemakers in Montalcino. The winter was warm and wet, which led to early vine growth and premature ripening. The summer was cooler, humid and wet, and made vine management difficult. Fungus accompanied the rain and humidity. Sangiovese yields were lower throughout the appellation.
There are few things more impressive to learn while on a winery visit than to hear a winery has foregone bottling its top tier wine in a given year because the fruit was not good enough. To me, this means that quality is paramount – superior to a winemaker than a year’s profit. It also means that there will be wonderful QPR wine to be had in a more immediately approachable, younger sibling. Such is the case with the 2014 Le Ragnaie Rosso di Montalcino. When visiting Le Ragnaie during spring 2018, I was surprised to learn that winemaker Riccardo Campinoti not only chose to put his best fruit from all three zones into the Rosso, but only around 1,000 total cases of that wine were even made. The fruit that typically makes Le Ragnaie’s Rosso bottling was put into IGT wines.
The wine is a beautifully bright red color in the glass. The nose expresses fresh, pure cherry and rose water. Herbs and minerality are also present. Much like other Le Ragnaie wines, there is mouth-watering acidity that makes the wine feel refreshing and lighter in the mid-palate. Medium plus length, particularly for a Rosso. A wonderfully enjoyable and elegant wine, which exceeds its price tag. Recommend